|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Following is an interview with the artist by Bill Chapin with the Jackson Citizen Patriot, Jackson, Michigan, June 14, 2010:|
Jackson Artist Leland Beaman says he sees the world through light, shadow and metaphors.
At 77 years old, Leland Beaman continues to paint every day — almost compulsively.
"It's kind of, you could say, a flaw in my character," the Jackson native said, soft-spoken as ever. "I tend to see everything in terms of light and shadow and metaphor. That's the way I experience the world. If I don't paint, I feel like I'm not relating to the world."
That need has added up to a prolific career. Since enrolling in an art correspondence course as a teenager, he has produced thousands of paintings. Some were bought by such celebrities as Vincent Price and Sen. John McCain.
He is responsible for the mural inside Jackson's historic train station and the bronze sculpture outside the Intermediate School District headquarters.
His work can also be found in the collections of the many Jackson residents who watched his development as one of the city's most prominent artists until he moved to Arizona in 1984.
Beaman recently returned for a workshop and lecture at the Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History. Fourteen paintings done within the last year are on display and for sale in the museum through August.
"A lot of people in the community have followed him," said Katie Hill, the museum's exhibit coordinator. "I think it's really exciting to see what he's been doing the last few years."
Hill said the museum also is planning a larger, career-spanning retrospective of Beaman's work next year.
The current show is dedicated to the memory of Beaman's first wife, Maureen Beaman, who died last year in Florida. Though they were separated, they had remained close. Before going into the hospital, she made a phone call to Michigan about having his work displayed at the museum.
"She always really helped me, and this was the last thing she did," Beaman said.
All of which might explain why mortality was on his mind leading up to the reception on June 3.
"I just want to say thank you to Jackson," Beaman said. "I want to see Jackson again and say hello to people ... and goodbye, I guess."
Beaman studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, American Academy of Art in Chicago and in New York City. He worked at illustration studios in Chicago and New York before returning to Jackson to raise a family and open his own studio and gallery, Stone Village Studio.
Beaman's father bought the Stone Village complex on Probert Road in Summit Township in the 1940s, converting the old dairy farm's stone barns and outbuildings into residences for his children. They in turn made the village into an arts center in the '60s, home to theatrical productions and various studios.
Making a living as an artist became increasingly difficult in the early '80s, however, as the automotive industry suffered through a recession. Beaman made a decision to pack up and head west.
"No one had money for paintings," he said. "I thought I'd better find a city where people were buying paintings."
Even in Phoenix, "it's been kind of a rough situation, and it still is today," he said.
His work lately has become about finding harmony between the realistic and the abstract, which he described as representing the two sides of his brain. He often will start with an abstract swath of colors on the canvas then add realistic people, animals, plants or landscapes. Sometimes a painting can morph between realism and abstraction several times, he said.
Though more of his paintings have come to feature Western themes and imagery, he still regularly returns to what many Jackson residents remember as his signature: a sea captain. He said he has painted hundreds of portraits of the bearded mariner.
"When I get frustrated, then I paint this guy and it brings me back to the balance," Beaman said
|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Leland Beaman, formerly of Jackson, Michigan is well-known for his oil
paintings, sculptures, drawings, poster art and watercolors within the Jackson community as
well as his home in Arizona since the mid 1980s. An example of his work in Arizona is a realistic watercolor of an American Avocet
for Sandy and Andy Andrews in 1987. Of the waterfowl, a frequent subject of his realistic painting, Beaman captured its elegant profile and
striking, detailed colors. Beaman has also painted animals, especially horses in action and cowboys on horses; landscapes, many of them from Tuscany and Greece as well as America; and large-scale floral work, a frequent subject of his posters.|
Early in his career, Beaman painted with a safe and realistic technique. As he matured he felt constricted by the conformity. “My life evolved from needing a precise structure to desiring my own personal expression,” he said. “Abstraction sets reality to music by orchestrating colors on canvas like a musician arranged notes for a symphony. I hope to compose a harmonious blend, pleasing to the eye, but also exciting and stimulating to the soul. . . .
Because of suffering mild autism, Beaman had special challenges. Of being an artist and dealing with this condition, he said: "I am happiest while painting, sculpting, writing or singing, everything else is work. . . .The only thing that came easily to me is expressing myself visually. Every other form of expression feels un-natural and clumsy. Because of this learning disability or gift I try to make each creation to the best of my ability. It's a lonely joyous life style and I thank God for it."
Experience and Accomplishments
Owned and operated an art school, frame shop, gallery and art supply store for 25 years.
Worked at Stevens Gross Studios in Chicago and Illustrators group in New York.
Created training films for U.S. Army.
Sold in excess of 6,000 painting in over forty years in fine art galleries in U.S. and abroad.
Chicago Art Institute
American Academy of Art
School of Design and Illustration in N.Y. city
Famous Artist School
Scottsdale Fine Art School in AZ.
EXHIBITIONS, COMMISSIONS, HONORS
Art show awards: Jackson, Michigan; St. Augustine, Florida; Stockton, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois and Detroit, Michigan
McDonald Corporation 16 murals
Michigan scenes for Citibank and Dahlen Corporation
Commissioned by Vincent Price to participate in a national art show
Commissioned to paint atomic energy murals for Consumers Power Company
Murals and drawings for Hotel Hayes
Commissioned as a poster artist for the New York Graphics Society
Corporate patrons include: Citibank, Earnhart Auto, Val Vista Lakes and Aeroquip Corporation
Supreme Court Judge Mary Coleman
Consumers Power Co.
Guide Post Magizine
Scottsdale Insurance Co.
Senator John McCain
"Leland Beaman", Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History, www.ellasharp.org/ex-aw-leland-beaman.html
"Leland Beaman Artist Biography", Think Art, www.thinkfineart.com/artists-directory/leland-beaman-artist-biography/
Leland Beaman: Biography: ukeep.com/leebea/biography.asp?A=10
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